Peterborough concert: Bongos’ frontman Richard Barone to play at Harlow’s Pub Friday with Rindge man’s band
Former Bongos frontman Richard Barone, seen here playing with Garth Hudson of The Band, will do a show Friday at Harlow's Pub.
Photo by Mick Rock
Singer, guitarist, music producer and author Richard Barone says he invites audience participation at his shows. He'll be playing at Harlow's in Peterborough on Friday.
Photo by Mick Rock
The Mendition of the Quay, with drummer Mike Jackman of Rindge, will appear with Richard Barone at Harlow's on Friday.
Richard Barone may not be a household name, but he’s played or produced music with Lou Reed, Donovan, Pete Seeger, Tiny Tim, the Monkees and Al Jardine of the Beach Boys, to name just a few. He first drew attention as the frontman for the Bongos, a Hoboken, N.J., band with an enthusiastic following in the 1980s. Barone then went on to a critically acclaimed solo career, releasing a distinctive album, “cool blue halo,” with songs done in a style he calls “chamber pop” that features acoustic guitar, vibes and cello, in 1987.
Two more solo albums followed before Barone shifted his focus to songwriting and producing, but he’s always loved performing. On Friday, he’ll be in Peterborough for a show at Harlow’s Pub, a stop on a tour that’s taking him to venues he’s never been to before.
“When I toured, we did 300 shows a year for seven years, but I still find places where I’ve never played. I look for those, because it keeps it all new for me,” said Barone, who lives in New York City’s Greenwich Village, in a phone interview last week.
Barone, who wrote a book titled “Frontman: Surviving the Rock Star Myth” about his years with the Bongos, has described the group’s first album as an “unusual combination of tribal rhythms, Beatlesque chord changes, and Sex Pistols overdrive.”
“We were a big MTV favorite at the start of the new wave era,” he said.
The band dissolved quietly in the late ’80s, although they got back together for a recording session and a series of reunion concerts in 2006, including an outdoor event in Hoboken where they were given keys to the city.
“My music’s taken many paths,” Barone said. “My solo albums were each very different, and now I’m doing my tours like a troubadour, just telling stories and doing my songs.”
Barone said it won’t be an acoustic show. “I play a Gibson J-160E. It’s an acoustic electric guitar, the model John Lennon played. My sound’s a little more electric pop. I’m not a folk singer.”
Barone is also a music producer, who in 2010 hosted a concert called “Reclaim the Coast” in New York City, which featured Pete Seeger, the Roches and others and benefitted the clean-up efforts after the Gulf Coast oil spill.
He recorded Seeger performing a new song about the spill, “God’s Counting On Me, God’s Counting On You,” aboard Seeger’s Hudson River sloop, “Clearwater,” and recently recorded another song associated with Seeger, “If I Had a Hammer,” sharing the vocals with Jardine.
He’s also a professor at New York University’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, although Barone said the title’s a bit of an exaggeration.
“I teach stage presence, once a week, at NYU. It’s my neighborhood university,” he said. “I was really honored to be asked. The class is based on my book.”
Whenever Barone plays a new venue, he likes to work with a local band, which will back him on several songs during his set.
“The Bongos were an instant band,” Barone said. “Their songs are really great for a band to sink their teeth into. I’ll get together with a local group and we’ll go over the songs. It brings the house down every time. It’s also giving credit to the community. Why not showcase the great musicians in each location?”
On Friday, Barone will be working with The Mendition of the Quay, which features Mike Jackman of Rindge on drums.
“One of the band members had opened for me in Connecticut, and from him I got an invitation to play at Harlow’s. I tend to say yes to invitations,” Barone said.
Jackman said The Mendition of the Quay is “sort of a Connecticut band.” Although he’s from Rindge, other band members live in New York City, Connecticut and Rhode Island. Along with playing with Barone, they’ll be doing material from their new album.
“Our album is kind of psychedelic pop,” Jackman said. “When we play live, it’s kind of a garage band sound. If people dig the mid ’60s and ’70s, they’ll have a great time.”
Barone said he loves doing his material with a new band at his shows.
“I do the songs in a very free-form way that engages the audience and allows for lots of audience participation. It’s really fun for me to tour this way.”
Friday’s show at Harlow’s has an $8 cover charge. The show starts at 9:30 p.m.
Dave Anderson can be reached at 924-7172, ext. 233 or firstname.lastname@example.org. He’s on Twitter at @DaveAndersonMLT.